Take The Lead Founder’s Story
In early 2013, leadership expert Gloria Feldt, best-selling author of No Excuses, 9 Ways Women Can Change how We Think About Power and a long-time women’s advocate, joined with Amy Litzenberger, a former investment banker with extensive experience in strategic planning and funding of start-up and emerging growth companies, to create Take The Lead.
Amy was questioning why women had stalled at 18-20% across all sectors, similar to when she left her position 15 years ago to stay home with a second child. And yet all evidence showed that more women in leadership resulted in better business results and government processes.
Gloria had spent over 30 years advancing women, including having served as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. For several years, she had been so obsessed with the very question Amy asked that she had literally written the book on it. After researching the problems, she had developed solutions. These include redefining power and 9 leadership “Power Tools.” After teaching this material at Arizona State University, delivering workshops for women in the workplace, and keynote speaking around the country, Gloria observed that these tools consistently created breakthroughs for women to achieve higher leadership intentions.
Amy and Gloria surveyed the many existing leadership programs and listened to what women said they needed. They realized that if women were to reach parity in leadership, an organization was needed to put a stake in the ground and create a synergistic program of training, mentoring, role modeling , and thought leadership needed to accelerate progress toward leadership parity.
With a scaling up strategy of collaboration and partnerships with over 200 organizations, Take The Lead officially launched in February of 2014 with the Take The Lead Challenge Event at ASU. This event featured prominent speakers, including Facebook CEO and Lean In founder Sheryl Sandberg and powerhouse Morgan Stanley Vice Chairman of Wealth Management Carla Harris. It rocked an on-site audience of 3,000, and reached an international livestream audience of 500,000 in 48 countries. The Close the Gap App was released to demonstrate Take The Lead’s focus on solutions rather than problems, whereupon the enthusiastic response crashed the web servers.
At that point, Gloria and Amy knew they had tapped an intense need. So they fleshed out a suite of training offerings for early career, mid-career, and near-the-C-Suite women and produced Take The Lead presents role model events and thought leadership writings. Mentoring will be implemented in 2016. They are convinced that with laser focus on these proven solutions, women will reach leadership parity by 2025.
And they invite you to join in this journey for good—women’s good and the good of the world.
GLORIA FELDT is the Co-Founder and President of Take The Lead, has been an advocate for women for forty years. A former teen mom, her hard work and natural leadership abilities led her to a 30-year career at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, including a 10-year stint as its national president and CEO. People Magazine has called her “the voice of experience,” and Vanity Fair named her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers.”
When she discovered that women have been stuck at 18 percent of top leadership positions for two decades, she knew she had to find a way to change that. The result: she wrote the bestselling book No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power to give women practical Power Tools that break down their unconscious barriers to greater personal and professional success. In 2014, she founded Take The Lead, an initiative to bring women to leadership parity by 2025.
AMY LITZENBERGER is co-founder and board chair of Take The Lead. Her goal is to change the playing field for the next generation of women. Her personal experience at an all-women’s school gave her the confidence to lead and laid the foundation for a successful career in investment banking. There, she witnessed the factors that make success so difficult for women, and she was inspired to act on her observations. Amy’s background in founding, funding and strategic planning for startup- and emerging-growth companies and non-profit organizations has earned her the expertise to turn her profound and passionate vision for Take The Lead into a reality.